Window to weight gain


Hi All,

I gave you a Ben Folds song back on Friday last week. I am not planning on making a habit of using youtube to pad my posts, but I truly think that Ben Folds is worthy of his own post. Ben Folds is the epitome of the unpopular kid’s revenge; indeed “One Angry Dwarf” has got to be the male version of Alanis Morissette’s ultimate break up album but exchanging school endured angst for romance. I am right there with you Ben. As one of only 2 fat kids in my school life was a little bit tough to say the least, the other fat girl was popular (go figure?) so it was all heaped on me so I know how one weedy skinny little glasses wearing kid might feel at any given time. My children were all to be considered “different” to the requirements to popularity and as such have all been exposed to various degrees of bullying behaviour, with varying results. There are always going to be bullies, and there are always going to be vigilantes…that’s a warning bullies…unpopular kids have a way of growing up, being smarter than you, putting in all that effort to work, save, rise up the corporate ladder and harbour seething revenge at people like you. Apart from the psychopathic bosses who need to be humoured at all times and strategically placated and avoided, most “popular” people don’t really amount to much. They have been taught that they are “worthy” and as such, don’t have to try. If you don’t learn to try, you don’t succeed. One day those unpopular kids that you bullied, ridiculed and generally made life hell for at school might just be your boss…your supervisor or one hell of a powerful angry dwarf hell bent on taking you out at the next school reunion. I know that you won’t be reading this post because popular people don’t really have to read all that much, it is all delivered to them on a plate. They never really learn the value of how to do things or to reach for the sky because it’s theirs anyway isn’t it? Talent is also something that comes from experience and the best musicians are those that have been tormented by their own or by other peoples demons and who are able to filter that experience through their respective muse to deliver something raw, desperate and beautiful. Think Leonard Cohen and “Halleluiah”. No more passionate, heart wrenching love song was ever written in my opinion. Ben Folds comes close (and you were wondering when I was going to segue back to him weren’t you?) and some of his songs like “smoke” and Gone” are 2 of my very favourite songs and I have thousands of favourite songs so that is saying something. He has a way of being able to match the lyrics with the music so poetically and poignantly. Billy Joel (honesty), Mark Knopfler (Romeo and Juliet), Cat Stevens (everything that he ever wrote!)…so many people willing to bleed out their emotions in front of us all. There is nothing that can make you feel like you are not the only one going through something like music can. I have found enormous solace in music and no doubt I will do so in the future. Ben Folds takes white middle class blues and gives them a voice. I love his insight and his ability to make total sense musically. Take a listen to Rockin the Suburbs and you can’t help but notice that this man is making fun of himself. He knows who he is and he is legitimising his place here amongst us with his incredible talent. How much harder do nerdy men and fat girls have to work to make it to the top? Just have a look at Adele and how talented she is…you won’t see anyone her size for many years to come no matter how talented they are. There are only so many successful big birds that are allowed in a decade otherwise the general public might actually pick up on the fact that anorexic women do NOT have all of the talent…


Our 88 year old neighbour Glad’s daughter Wendy had a good crop of apples, hazelnuts and tomatoes this year and asked us if we wanted some…”Yes Please!”


The hazelnuts in the blue bag are dried and are from last year and the hazelnuts that you can see clearly are this years and Wendy only just harvested them


These tomatoes look delicious but taste out of this world. Note the little black Siberian tomatoes that do so well in our colder climate and that have a short cropping period. Wendy is experimenting with what grows the best here in Tasmania in her local conditions


I am typing this on Saturday…its overcast but not raining yet. We walked the boys for about 5km today and then headed back home to get the fire going so that I could cook up my mountain of beans. The idiom “aint worth a hill of beans” with regards to a trifling matter should set about cooking up a hill of beans…nothing trifling about spending an entire day wandering about your kitchen alternating straining cold soaked beans, putting them on the stove, cooking them and then straining them all over again and starting back with another batch of soaked beans (totally 6 batches in all). I am just letting them simmer till they are tender to my taste and then taking them off the stove. That is one of the great things about wood burning stoves, and this one in particular, you can put a kettle or a stockpot of soup or anything really on the top of it and let it tick over and cook long and slow. I just put the first batch of beans (amounting to about 10 cans of cannellini beans) into the freezer ready to be used for whatever I like in the future. I have made Steve’s pork pies and they are in the oven now waiting to brown and once they are cooked and cooled we have to make the chicken stock and gelatine mix to pour into them to make “real pork pies”. At Christmas time when mum was over and cooking up a storm with her granddaughters, I had a very productive day’s baking where I made an enormous amount of things…too many to even think about and all possible through making sure that I was organised. That is the secret to being a good cook. You can spend all of your time learning how to cook gourmet delights with truffles, foie gras and saffron but if you can’t organise your way out of a paper bag, it just won’t work. Cooking is a progression of steps and every recipe requires at least a vague adherence to those steps to end up with your desired results. I just have to explain the title of today to all of you constant readers who don’t watch the Simpson’s. Homer had to go on a diet and Dr Nick; the family physician told homer that he could have anything that didn’t turn a paper bag clear as if it did “That is your window to weight gain”. I made a template (never one to leave things to chance) to ensure that I had the correct amount of hot water pastry to put into the mini loaf/muffin tin that I was using to make the pork pies. I used a jumbo muffin pan last time but this loaf shaped tin has 8 holes making it better for a double batch of pork pies. After using the template to cut out the first section of pastry the paper turned clear and reminded me of that episode. I quite liked the early years of the Simpsons, much like I enjoyed the early years of Friends…there is something about carrying on after series 6 in a show that sounds the death knoll for creativity and suddenly it all starts to seem very forced and contrived. I must admit to loving Family Guy. There are some episodes of that show that have had me laying on the floor convulsing with laughter and there is something amazingly liberating about following Peter Griffin through his days and watching his complete disregard for anyone other than himself. Hilarious to watch, horrible to live with!


This small pork pie was an extra to the main event. I had enough mix left over from the larger tray of mini loaf shaped pies to make this little fellow. You can see it here with one of our eggs slathered all over the top. Lovely yellow things aren’t they?


I once owned this tray back when I lived in W.A. I gave it to mum when we moved over here and when I went over for mum’s funeral and my sister and brother were clearing out mums small state housing unit I saw it and decided that it was going to come home with me to be used again. Here it is being used to create some of Steve’s favourite things…Pork Pies


Here are the baked results of the tray and mini spring form pan above. They had to cool for an hour before we syphoned in the jelly mix


Here is a close up of the little round pork pie cooling and waiting for its gelatinised top note application. The rack that it is resting on was made by Steve and is a most amazing cooling rack. We made it because we needed something big enough to put all of our loaves on when we baked and were tired of juggling 5 – 6 various misshapen metal racks and placing cooling loaves all over the place. This rack is large enough for 8 loaves of bread to cool on and more than big enough for cakes and biscuits (not that I cook many of them to be honest). Mum drooled over it when she saw it and wished that she had one of them when she was cooking enormous amounts for shearers back when she was a shearers cook


I am sitting here typing in between racing about (in my organised way of course…) rendering beans cooked and making sure that pork pies don’t burn. It’s a real juggling act with a wood burning oven and we have 4 of them with this stove. We are slowly learning the right temperatures for things and how to get to that temperature and more importantly, how to stay there. The temperature fluctuates as you put more or less wood on. That might seem like stating the “bleedin’ obvious”, but the heat can escalate quite some time after new wood is added and can drop quite quickly even though you are attempting to maintain a steady burn. It’s all a learning curve for us at that moment but we are not attempting to cook anything “precious” that will turn up its toes or that requires precision temperatures until we are more able to gauge said temperatures. Steve is hovering between the P.C. and the lounge room where the wrestling is blaring loudly…I think that Austar and the A & E channel might have to be rationed soon…Steve has suddenly recultivated his interest in redneck wrestling and is posting redneck songs all day. We had a most enjoyable morning sorting out songs for the blog posts and I even managed to get Dolly Parton to make an appearance as a prize winning Hillbilly girl. By the way…that “Jolene” must have been one stone cold fox to make Dolly look plain! I also don’t believe that Dolly would just sit back and watch her man be stolen by Jolene, I have more than an inkling that any “Jolene’s” that were foolish enough to attempt to mess with any man that Ms Dolly Parton was interested in would end up with a whole lot less hair and a messed up face. Bring it on Jolene! Steve just took a tray of leftover lard pastry (sounds gross but the dogs will dance for it…) from the oven. Bezial has been waiting near the oven because the smell of the pastry is permeating the air and making him drool. He has had more than his fair share of the pastry in its raw state and can’t believe his luck at home much leftover pastry is up on the cooling rack. He had a brief look at the beans and found them wanting and turned his attention back to the pastry. It is going to be shared between the dogs and the hens who will appreciate something nice and filling as it is cold outside and they are milling about in packs wondering what has happened to the weather. Most of these chooks haven’t seen a winter before so it is all new to them. A bit of pastry will go a long way to restoring their happy hen status. I am sipping on some heavenly soup that we made last night when the stove was on. I knew that we would be busy today and that the stove would be full so decided to take advantage of the lack of “stuff” on the cook plate and so we made soup. Steve makes the best soup that I have ever tasted. Now that mum has passed on I can legally say that his soup far exceeds any other soup that I have tasted. I wouldn’t have wanted to undermine mums marrowbone soup but Steve isn’t known as “The Soup Dragon” for nothing. Anyone who has read this blog for more than a few posts knows that food and I have a bit of a difficult relationship. It’s either boom or bust for me and I am in the process of learning to eat “normally”. I decided that I wanted to stop dieting. I had been doing it since I was in my early teens with varying degrees of success but never actually reducing my weight and staying there. I figure that after 35 years of dieting that I can say, with some degree of accuracy that diets don’t work! Bollocks to them in fact. Deprivation followed by periods of secretly munching through all of those “untouchables”…we are just setting ourselves up for failure people. No more dieting for me. I have swapped over. I am not kidding myself. We had a fellow student in certificate 2 of horticulture who told me once that she had been an anorexic and that she was able to change her behaviour by eating nutritious foods but now she is exercise dysmorphic. You swap one addiction for another, one bad habit for another and I have just swapped dieting for “nutritious eating”. I am not counting calories, I am not weighing myself. I am not limiting my portions (yet) and I am not cutting all fat out of my diet. Who would know what is healthy eating anymore? All I know is that I feel 100% better, I no longer think about food and eating constantly and I am not craving anything, especially sugar. I guess it will take a lot longer to lose weight by eating nutritiously, but then again, it might stay off. Let’s just wait and see…


Steve and I are not patient people. As such there was only a specific amount of time that we were willing to donate to syphoning liquid gelatinised stock into a tiny little hole. I dare say the amount of jelly in these pies was a bit limited but Steve says that they taste delicious and I guess at the end of the day that is all that really matters…”Form over function” not in this case!


Hazelnuts are falling from small trees all over Tasmania (and anywhere else in the Southern Hemisphere that they are grown) at the moment and we were very lucky to get a big bag of them. I just wanted to show you the hazelnuts nestled in their little nutty sleeping bags all starting to fall out, rubbing their eyes and nestling down for a nice overwintering in the cold (stratification) and if the mice, rats and humans leave them alone they might well germinate to form new little hazelnuts. Cute aren’t they?


Here’s just a small percentage of what I ended up “shucking” from the husks. I had some help from Earl but that is another story… Some of the hazelnuts are going to be stratified to grow some more hazelnut trees for the property. They might take a bit of time to get to be big enough to bear nuts but mass planted they will make great coppicing material in the future and a fully sustainable source of wood. We are also thinking of using them as hedging around the farm so you will most probably see more about that in future posts


Steve just put some foil on the top of the pork pies because they were starting to brown too quickly. Another tweak of the wood stove controls and we get a little bit closer to being wood stove maestros. As mentioned, we spent this morning listening to all sorts of music on youtube and it was great fun. We both love music and have played various instruments in our past. Steve was a guitar teacher in a past life and I played in a brass and concert band through school. We get great enjoyment out of music and it’s one thing that we can actually enjoy together because we are entirely opposite people and we have very diverse interests. You can bet that if Steve is wild about something, its “meh” to me and visa-versa. Music and plants are a safe bet for harmony around here so it’s really good to spend some time together enjoying the same thing. Steve has an uncanny knack of looking for something in images and finding some really interesting and worthwhile sites in the process. He was looking for a recipe for “Gala pie” (raised pork pies made with hot water lard pastry with whole hard boiled eggs nestled in the filling) and found some great sites. The first one appealed to me as if I was living in the middle ages, I dare say I would be a scullery cook.

And the second one is just plain bizarre. Only an Aussie male could blog like this and despite not giving us a recipe for that enormous slab of chicken and pork pie that he is holding in his hand… he has some of the weirdest and most amusing inventions, creations and costumes that I have ever seen!

You would be amazed at how varied and interesting your afternoon can be if you start with a simple query and allow your fingers to do the walking on your keyboard. I tend to end up so far off left of the original query at the end of my hunting session that it is laughable but on the way I also find an incredible amount of valuable websites and information to store and save for future use. I think it’s time to wander off and have a bit of a look-see now so I will bid you all adieu for today and see you all tomorrow when I can hopefully share a picture of Steve at his graduation ceremony tonight, with you all. He really deserves all of the kudos for all of his hard work and in a way it is fitting that he gets to shine on his own tonight, he has worked incredibly hard for get to this level and really does deserve his moment in the spotlight. Well done Steve :o)


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. nat
    Mar 07, 2012 @ 11:27:01

    yum, i have never tried pork pie,( have told some porky pies). i would like your recipe, they look very english. I to am also on a eat healthy and try and lose weight kick. i have swapped smoking for exercising and eating good nutritious food and am feeling much better for it. I am still having cravings but am going well, i have not killed or maimed anyone yet. We were all very proud of Steve last night, the only down fall was NO FRAN, the baby sitting dog excuse was not that good seen the girls live 1km away from where you had to go. We are heading over to MIFGS later in the month, it started with me going and then i asked Jas and nick has decided to come as well. How about you guys the more the merrier. Enjoy the pork pies. yummmmmmmm


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